The Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare, America’s top-ranked professional road cycling race, announced its inaugural course April 26, a diverse 120-mile (194 kilometer) route that features the rolling pastoral countryside of Baltimore County and the urban landscape and waterfront of central Baltimore.
The race will start at Kelly Benefits (Sparks, Md.) in Baltimore County and finish along East Pratt Street and Market Place in Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor District. World-class athletes from 17 professional teams of seven riders each will race in the first-time event. The last world-class race to take place in Maryland was the 1996 Tour DuPont.
“After a two-year delay due to the pandemic, we’re thrilled to announce the course for Maryland Cycling Classic, something everyone has been anxiously anticipating,” said Terry Hasseltine, the President of the Sport & Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, the event owners and producers. ”A big thank you to the City of Baltimore and Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration and Baltimore County and the team under Johnny Olszewski. Without the great partnerships from the Baltimore County and the City of Baltimore, staging an event of this size and stature on public roads is not possible. The course will showcase the beautiful rural and urban landscapes of the greater Baltimore region with images of our beloved state being seen around the world.”
The course is a tale of two landscapes. Cyclists will traverse unrelenting rolling terrain with few level gradients to relax on a winding outer circuit that routes close to the Pennsylvania state line and features the historic Sagamore Farms. The upper course is defined by Prettyboy Reservoir with the course ascending and descending around the 80-square-mile body of water. The inner loop around the reservoir features lush, tree-covered roads with short punchy climbs but nothing overly long, an ideal mix for attacks and breakaway attempts.
After 75 miles, the riders will race south on Falls Road, the only straight section of the course, into the heart of central Baltimore for a multi-lap circuit finale. In a complete contrast to the roads of Baltimore County, the city circuit will feature 19 turns and a deceivingly tough elevation gain of 234-feet per lap. Positioning and bike handling skills will be at a premium. Once on the circuit, cyclists will navigate 4.5 circuits of 7.5 miles (12 km). Historic and modern Baltimore will be showcased to viewers and fans around the world as the circuits route through the skyscrapers of the Inner Harbor and Harbor East business districts, as well as the neighborhoods of Little Italy, Fells Point, Old Town, Mount Vernon while circling the Greenmount West neighborhood and diverse shops along Broadway. The final 3-kilometers (less than two miles) will feature a descent down St. Paul Street onto East Pratt for an expected flat, fast finish.
“We are extremely proud and appreciative of the public-private effort and collaboration of our partners. Throughout the planning process, we’ve been able to develop a very diverse and challenging course integrating legendary routes in Baltimore County with a ‘big city’ finish in downtown Baltimore,” said Chris Aronhalt, Owner/President of Medalist Sports. “This Labor Day weekend will provide spectators and viewers with the perfect opportunity to enjoy world-class cycling, community engagement and Maryland hospitality.”
Ben King, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., and is a top rider for one of America’s top professional teams and Human Powered Health, said: “The Maryland Cycling Classic will give riders and spectators alike a feel for rural and urban Maryland. I really like what they’ve done. The quiet country roads at the start are like those that I train on in central Virginia and will be relatable to local riders. I can guarantee the constant rolling terrain will be more punishing than it looks on paper. I expect the atmosphere in the city to rival that of any major race in the world. The East Coast has a great spectator fan base for pro cycling. The multiple finishing circuits in front of thousands and thousands of fans will for sure be an adrenaline boost. The people of Maryland and Baltimore should get ready for a great show.”
Event Chair John Kelly also introduced the initial roster of corporate partners, including presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare, as well as DirectPay, Kelly Benefits, Thorne Nutrition, HarborEast and H&S Bakery, BGE, Athlos and DMC Sport. The event is supported by host partners of the City of Baltimore, Visit Baltimore, Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland.
The event is sanctioned as part of the prestigious UCI Pro Tour Series and USA Cycling. The event is managed and marketed by Medalist Sports, LLC of Peachtree City, Ga., and KOM Sports Marketing of Colorado Springs, Colo., professional road cycling leaders the past two decades.
— Maryland Cycling Classic press release